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Hoops Happening: Today in women’s basketball — Thursday May 10, 2018

Kevin Garnett’s ‘Area 21’ is the gold standard for what women’s basketball coverage ought to be.

2018 NBA All-Star Game Celebrity Game
Kevin Garnett
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Kevin Garnett — retired NBA champion, future Hall of Famer, and notorious trash talker — is as known for his no-nonsense attitude as he is for killing it on the basketball court. And it would also be fair to say he values forthright honesty as much as he values excellence.

His Area 21 has become a hangout for some the WNBA’s biggest stars, including Candace Parker, who has made repeat appearances. Lindsay Whalen, Sue Bird and Elena Delle Donne have also sat down with Garnett for in-depth conversations about hoops.

Of his conversations with Parker, he said, “I find whenever she is around I’m always learning something. I always figure steel sharpens steel, so I like to have people who are able to bring something to teach me.”

If the NBA and its players hold such mad respect for the women’s game, what is the obstacle to getting their fans to embrace the WNBA with the same fervor? After all, NBA fans submit to the influences of the league and its players, on everything from fashion to music. Why is support for women’s basketball any different?

A case for female media shot callers

Garnett is committed to conversation that furthers insight into the game and its players. But without the decision-making powers of Tara August, “de facto executive producer” for Area 21 (who holds a much bigger official title with Turner Sports), it is easy to doubt that Garnett’s vision would have been given the green light, let alone nourished with care.

This is not to say a man could not have fostered the direction of the show in a similar way. But the type of coverage women’s sports fans have been privy to historically — the results of decisions made largely by men — indicates otherwise. A woman in a position of power at a major broadcast — in teamwork with a retired player who respects the game of basketball and its most elite players (not just those with penises) — made this happen.

“There wasn’t a strategy of ‘we have to bring women in,’ but it also wasn’t a strategy of ‘it can’t be women,’” August explained. “We just were always talking about people who [Garnett] would wanna sit and talk hoops with, and women are on that list.”

Parker had an insightful, yet smoking-hot take on those who disrespect the WNBA and their reasons for doing so. “Female ballers don’t get disrespected by NBA players,” said Parker. “It’s usually dudes that don’t play basketball that disrespect the WNBA.”

Maybe Parker is on to something, that a vast number of men cannot respect women’s basketball because their fragile egos will not allow them to accept women doing things they could never achieve in their wildest dreams.

Case in point:

As Sarah Spain wrote, Garnett isn’t going to plead with people to watch women’s basketball. Instead, he will maintain his commitment to excellence by discussing basketball with best the game has to offer and allowing their greatness to speak for itself.

It speaks with eloquence and resounding clarity.

Speaking of greatness

Mutual appreciation party

Next on-court action

Atlanta Dream take on the Connecticut Sun on Friday May 11 at Webster Bank Arena. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. EST and ticket information can be found here.

Other happenings in women’s hoops

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Atlanta Dream rock power tools

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